Bzzzzz: Rizal Library keeps budget, can resume 24/7 services when needed. Cebu City PIO on City Hall messaging problems. 'Ball-dropper' on vaccines.

·3 min read

THE Cebu City Library, more popularly known as the Rizal Library, was the first library in the country to operate 24 hours, seven days a week.

Library clientele rose to 103,000 during its 24/7 operation (beginning March 18, 2018 under then mayor Tomas Osmeña), compared to 26,000 in the year 2017, or an increase of 296 percent. When Mayor Edgardo Labella assumed office on June 30, 2019, the library cut its round-the-clock schedule by half (from 8 a.m. to 12 midnight) but resumed the old hours on July 23 of that year. A good program deserves to be kept, Labella said.

Since the quarantine was imposed and in-person classes were stopped, the Rizal library's number of visitors has dropped to about 50 persons a month.

Wednesday, December 16, Mrs. Rosario Chua, chief librarian, told a hearing of the committee on finance and budget presided by Councilor Raymond Garcia that 20 casuals hired for the 24/7 operations have had much less work than before.

Garcia asked Chua to "maximize the utilization" of the casuals. The library apparently keeps its budget for 2021 and can resume its 24/7 operations next year when conditions, led by face-to-face classes, warrant return of the service.

The Rizal Library, whose creation and operation are mandated by national law, showed that a library is more than a place for borrowing books. It can be a study and research area and a meeting place.

The library has Wi-Fi, a major drawing factor, and allows people to drink coffee inside the building. Entrance is free but one must bring his own coffee.

It was so successful in luring visitors that Quezon City and Davao City copied its service innovation.

City Hall radio program

The Cebu City public information office offers its solution to the problems of information, disinformation and miscommunication between City Hall and its constituents, which came into bold relief during the pandemic and occasionally arises.

The solution: a radio program that will cost the city P600,000, presumably for one year.

Councilor Yayoy Alcoseba had a question at the hearing: "Would the radio program act on complaints? Does the PIO act on complaints that watchers of the live-streamed City Council sessions send in?" Yes, said officer-in-charge Razel Cuizon.

Short and sweet. Communication problems identified and solved.

He who 'dropped the ball'

Did you know -- That Cebu City Vice Mayor Mike Rama used to call then mayor Tomas Osmeña "Samot," which is teen or street lingo for "Tomas"?

-- That under the mandate given to vaccine chief Carlito Galvez Jr., the vaccine cluster still had to hold clinical trials for the brand of vaccine it would buy and would have a panel of experts to decide? People wonder if the clinical trials held for the same vaccine elsewhere, say in the United Kingdom or the US, would not do, or approval in other countries, which decidedly have more technical experts and equipment, not suffice?

-- That Senator Ping Lacson's clue as to who was responsible for the talks with Pfizer on anti-Covid-19 vaccines for the Philippines to collapse was a giveaway. Lacson said: "You can figure out who is the captain ball I am referring to who keeps dropping the ball but manages to stay in the game because the coach refuses to replace him."

If you don't know the answer, you've not been reading the news about the leaders in the fight against Covid.

Had negotiations by Philippine officials and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stayed on track, Pfizer would have been the first Covid vaccine to reach the country. Pfizer/BioNTech is the first supplier to have secured authorization from US, UK and Singapore. Only the Chinese brand Sinovac "can supply vaccines in March or April 2021 and the Chinese have still to disclose the results of its phase 3 clinical results to prove it is safe and effective."

Name the ball-dropper, as alleged by Foreign Affairs chief Teddy Locsin Jr., and the coach. Teddyboy has not named the culprit.

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